The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Sen. Bill Stanley
Friday, March 7, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
State Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill) is concerned about Gov. Terry McAuliffe's motives in requesting a detailed account of spending from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
"While the Tobacco Commission has been audited on a regular basis by Virginia and found to be managerially and fiscally sound on each occasion, the governor's action can only mean one thing -- that he hopes to take the remaining monies in the Tobacco Commission and reallocate them away from our region to be earmarked for other government programs that do not help the counties, cities and towns that are contained in the 'tobacco footprint'."
The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, formed in 1999, has 31 members who manage the $1 billion endowment fund created from one-half of Virginia's share of the master settlement with the nation's tobacco companies, Stanley said. The goal of the commission has been to support economic development in the state's tobacco growing region, which has been economically depressed for many years due to reduced tobacco production.
To date, the commission has awarded 1,736 grants totaling more than $1 billion across the tobacco region of the commonwealth, and it has provided $309 million in indemnification payments to tobacco growers and quota holders.
In Franklin County, the Tobacco Commission has provided $10.9 million in funding for industry relocations and expansions, scholarships, and workforce, agriculture and tourism initiatives, according to Mike Burnette, county economic development director.
Local industries that have received incentive grants from the Tobacco Commission include Solution Matrix, Trinity Packaging, McAirlaids, Ply Gem, Mod-U-Kraf and Homestead Creamery.
"Simply put, the Tobacco Commission has been an important and integral part of the re-building of the economy in Southside and Southwest Virginia," Stanley said.
"I am hopeful that the governor's intentions are pure, and that they are not regionally or politically motivated, because it is hard to argue with the overall success of the Tobacco Commission in bringing jobs to our area during these tough economic times," he added.